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Maricopa County Sheriff-elect Paul Penzone turns focus to delivering on promises

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LISTEN: Paul Penzone - Maricopa County Sheriff Elect

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Sheriff-elect Paul Penzone said voters’ approval was “humbling” and gratifying, but he was focusing on plans that would help him fulfill his campaign promises.

“Words are great but if your actions don’t match your words then they mean nothing,” Penzone told KTAR’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Wednesday morning, the day after unseating the self-proclaimed “America’s toughest sheriff,” Joe Arpaio.

Penzone said the division between the community and the sheriff’s office, known for its immigration raids and drawing national attention because of racial-profiling cases, had to change.

“We need to get back in partnership. … There are a lot of good men and women in that agency, that serve this community every day in sacrifice,” he said.

Arpaio had been in office for 23 years, winning re-elections easily until 2012, when he squared off against Penzone for the first time. Arpaio won by just 6 percentage points.

The latest campaign was waged during months of contempt-of-court hearings against Arpaio and his office for disobeying a federal order.

“Other agencies around the Valley do a great job without all the noise,” Penzone said.

The county has paid millions in lawyers and court fees on the case.

The court-appointed monitor was also costing taxpayers, Penzone said.

Part of Penzone’s plan for his first 100 days of work included evaluating staff, facilities, changing department culture and restoring community faith in law enforcement.

“Meet us, work with us. (Citizens) have to be open to the idea that we’re going to get this done.”

When the job starts seemed to be up in the air.

The former Phoenix police sergeant joked he didn’t know when the swearing-in would be.

“I’ve got a job now, I just don’t know when to show up.”

Paul Penzone was a frequent contributor to KTAR.com and a frequent guest on KTAR-FM 92.3.

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